We’re yet to visit a hotel that didn’t care about our safety. From the complimentary in-room safe, an offer to store any bulky valuables in the office safe upon check-in, or the quiet yet present security staff – physical hotel security is assumed by guests and is something hotels continually strive to improve on.
It came as a surprise to us then, that while hotels universally care about their guest’s physical security, most don’t appear to be concerned about the cyber security of their website and potential guests. In a recent study of the security of over 1000 hotel websites that we compiled, only 11% of hotels had a website that was correctly secured. Some 89% of hotels didn’t have a secure website!
A Lack of Website Security Can Hurt Direct Bookings
As large hotel chains suffer well publicized security breaches, it’s understandable that guests will think twice before making a booking on a website that is not properly secured. In fact, 84% of users say they would abandon a purchase if data was sent over a connection that was not secured.
While I sympathize with small and independently owned hotels that have seen their profits squeezed by OTAs, I disagree with the sentiment that website maintenance need to be a cost to hotels. If your hotel views it’s web presence as a cost center, something is very wrong – it’s probably costing you business too.
Security Brings Trust, Trust Brings Bookings
In 2014, Google began to give higher priority to secured websites – something that Search Engine Optimizers call a ranking factor. Savvy hotel marketers quickly secured their entire website and have been seeing increased bookings since.
Google is a business that understands trust – their users demand it, and they are rewarding the businesses that help keep their users happy.
“only 11% of hotels had a website that was correctly secured”
Hotels with secure websites are given more opportunities to generate bookings with search users, while insecure sites have seen less and less opportunity since Google’s publicly stated intentions in 2014. If you pay a business to take care of your website each month and it is still not secure, it’s time to find a business that is looking out for your hotel’s best interests.
Poorly Secured Websites Will Continue to Underperform
In addition to search engines heavily favoring secure websites, internet browsers are following suit. Starting in January of this year, Google Chrome is now marking websites as “not secure”. Firefox has began to do the same and it’s only a matter of time until all major browsers take this path as we move to a more secure web.
In a study by GlobalSign in 2014, 28.9% of users stated that they look for the green address bar to make sure the website they are browsing is secure. As web browsers begin to mark poorly secured websites with a red address bar, we are sure direct bookings will be affected even more.
A More Secure Web
Although early adopters have beaten many of their competitors to the punch, 89% of hotels still use an unsecured website. Improving your hotel’s website security is not only something that you will have to do eventually, it’s going to give you a competitive advantage between now and then.
If you’re looking for more search engine traffic, greater trust from guests and more direct bookings as a result, you’d do well to secure your hotel’s website today.